When we pray, as Jesus taught us to, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11), we are trusting that the Lord will provide for our daily needs. Most clearly, Jesus has our physical and material needs in view. He wants his disciples to walk in daily dependence on the Lord for the material things we truly need in this life. God is the sovereign ruler of the world, and therefore, in his perfect love and wisdom, he provides his children with all that we need.
This abundant provision is not limited to material needs, however. God’s perfect provision extends to every nook and cranny of life, including our circumstances. Often Christians speak of “finding joy in Christ despite our circumstances.” Such a sentiment isn’t entirely wrong. In Christ we have a joy that transcends whatever our lives look like right now. Despite the challenges and trials of this life, we can rejoice in Jesus. That is true – and we should pursue such joy.
At the same time, we should consider that even our circumstances – be they pleasant, toilsome, or something in between – are a provision from God himself. Nothing happens apart from his good and sovereign will. Therefore, every circumstance in life is a “slice” of the daily bread that God has chosen to provide. Just as we can be sure that God will provide all of the material things we need, and withhold many luxuries we don’t need lest they distract us from him, we can also be sure that any circumstance he brings us is necessary. And any circumstance he spares us isn’t necessary.
Every circumstance in life is a “slice” of the daily bread that God has chosen to provide.
John Newton, the great hymn writer, put it this way: “Everything is needful that he sends; nothing is needful that he withholds.” If the circumstances you find yourself in today are heavy, hard, or bitter – trust that the Lord has brought them because you need them. Through them, he is sanctifying you, stretching you, and moving you toward maturity. And if there is some blessed, ideal picture of “the good life” that you have sought but never found, trust that you haven’t found it because the Lord knows that you don’t need it. You need him, instead. God knows better than we do what we truly need. Whatever we lack, we lack because he knows we don’t need it. Whatever we have, no matter how hard or heavy, we have because we need it.
So let us say, as another great hymn writer did:
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.